As the nation inches closer and closer to a government shutdown, the right is readying itself for the upcoming public-relations battle. Their approach appears to be two-fold. First, obfuscate the potential ramifications of a shutdown, especially for senior citizens and the poor. We saw this tactic at work when Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) falsely claimed that Social Security checks would be uninterrupted during a shutdown, and when Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told Fox News that a government shutdown wouldn’t “hurt one bit.”
The second leg of the GOP approach is to deny that anyone on the right is discussing a government shutdown. This orchestrated Republican strategy was on full display last week; both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) rejected the idea that any GOPers were talking about shutting down the government.
The newest Republican to repeat this debunked denial is Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). This morning, Brown told Fox & Friends that “There’s no Republican that’s going to shut the government down or wants to shut the government down.” He went on to declare that “the only people talking about that right now are the Democrats”:
BROWN: There’s no one in my caucus that has ever said, “oh gosh, let’s make a political win and shut the government down.” There’s no Republican that’s going to shut the government down or wants to shut the government down. The only people talking about that right now are the Democrats and it’s — the scare tactics need to go away. We need to sit down in a room and hammer these things out, period.
Despite Brown’s assertion, as ThinkProgress noted last week, there are at least nine Republicans who have publicly discussed shutting down the government if their various demands aren’t met:
– Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR): “Womack said he would be open to forcing a government shutdown over spending.” [The Hill, 12/12/10]
– Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA): “If government shuts down, we want you with us. … It’s going to take some pain for us to do the things that we need to do to right the ship.” [9/10/10]
– Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): Q: do you think shutdown should be off the table? PRICE: Everything ought to be on the table. [2/11/11]
– Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “[King] said last week that he wants Boehner and other House leaders to sign a ‘blood oath’ that they l include a repeal of health care reform in every appropriations bill next year, even if President Barack Obama vetoes the bills and a government shutdown occurs.” [Roll Call, 9/10/10]
– Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI): If Obama…responds to the mandate from voters and understands he can’t disregard it, then he thinks Obama will do well “If he doesn’t, he will shut government down,” Walberg said. [Jackson Citizen Patriot, 11/03/10]
– Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MI): Q: Are you willing to participate in what would lead to a shutdown of the federal government to stop this monstrosity from going down he tracks? NUNNELEE: I agree with Congressman Boehner. We need to do whatever is necessary to make sure this bill never goes into effect. [11/09/10]
– Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “If it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren.” [11/15/10]
– Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): “This is the way the government should adjust. If they can’t pay their bills, wait.” [12/16/10]
– Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL): “We will do what we have to do, to shut down the government if we have to, to choke Obamacare if we have to.” [2/12/11]
Just yesterday, Walsh doubled down on his threat, saying, “If my Republican leadership asks me to vote for a budget, even a two-week budget, that doesn’t have spending cuts, I will say no and I will shut down government.” Republicans like Brown, Boehner and Cantor are attempting to paint Democrats as the group at fault if a shutdown were to occur. However, their argument is undercut by the growing number of GOPers joining the Shutdown Caucus.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) appeared on The Laura Ingraham Show yesterday and echoed the same sentiment as Scott Brown, telling the host that, “I don’t know anybody in the Republican Party that’s looking forward to, or proposing, shutting down the government.”
,In an interview with Fox News, freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) became the 10th GOPer to endorse the prospect of a government shutdown, declaring that “nothing’s off the table at this point.”